Monday, December 17, 2012

Why do you run?

I bike and take the train to work, and every day when I get off at my stop I see a woman run off the train and down the stairs. She's old, has to be in her fifties, possibly older. She's wearing a black leather jacket. She has really long, frazzled grey hair. Her shoes are not meant for running. And yet, she runs.

Well, running is being generous. It's more of a nervous, rapid walk. It's the kind of motion someone would make if they don't know how to run. Or, perhaps, if they feel that actually running, with the pumping of arms and swinging of legs, is unseemly given the circumstances. It's how you move when you're trying to beat that person with an overflowing cart to the register with no line (I mean, you only have 10 items and they are stocking up for five different apocalypses, you deserve to go first). Someone who moves this way has somewhere to be.

And yet, there are no connecting trains at my stop. There are some buses outside, sure, but these buses are in no hurry to be anywhere. They languidly laze about, never deigning to leave. No one can miss one of these buses. Where is there to run? I cannot see it.

Today she was on my car and disembarked before me. In her twitchy nervousness she was queued up at the door almost as soon as we left the previous station. I would be surprised if five people get off at this stop on a normal day, why line up so soon? The doors opened and she hurried to the escalator, hurried down the escalator (although not, it should be noted, as quickly as I do when there's no one in front of me, I am apparently in the 99th percentile of stair descending speed), and then hurried through the turnstiles.

I've seen this so many times before, but today I happened to glance back as I was riding away from the station to see the woman walking down the sidewalk. Walking. Perhaps she feels encumbered by the BART station, as though it were a weight bearing down on here, and she must be free of it. Perhaps she looked at her watch and realized "Oh, I'm not that late." Perhaps there is only so much hurrying a person can do in a short span.

I don't know why she runs. Maybe she doesn't either.